Does Cheating on your Diet Mean You Can Eat Junk All Day?

Most mornings I eat oatmeal. I like it, it’s easy and I don’t have to think too much about it. Changing the toppings changes the taste and keeps me from getting bored. (If you think oatmeal is boring check out these ideas from Greatist). In the summer I switch to overnight oats or a smoothie.

Every now and then I want something different. This morning I was craving a muffin. Usually I will make a healthy version of a muffin and call it a day. Not this morning. There were double chocolate muffins in the freezer downstairs and that is exactly what I wanted, topped with peanut butter. It was delicious and I won’t pretend it was healthy, it wasn’t.

I don’t beat myself up on the days I eat a muffin for breakfast or have a cookie after lunch. Nor do I use it as an excuse to eat whatever junk foods I feel like eating during the day. Eating healthily is not an all or nothing proposition. If your eating isn’t stellar at one meal make up for it with a healthy choice at the next meal.

Lunch was a green protein shake: vanilla Shakeology, raw cacao powder, kale, avocado and strawberries. It was nutrient dense, delicious and it felt good on my sore throat. (I’ve been sick, which is why my blog was sporadic this week). I could have had a number of healthy choices but this sounded really good today. Snacks included a blood orange and almonds, dinner will also be a nutritious choice as well.

Trying to eat on point at every meal is not going to work in the long-term for most of us. It’s a crazy-making and ventures into the realm of disordered eating. I had a friend who used to cry after eating dessert, she felt like a failure. Over.one.dessert. I used to chew a cookie and spit it out. Now I eat the cookie, enjoy it and add extra vegetables and less starchy carbs at the next meal.

It’s about balance and maintaining your sanity.

Do you need help achieving that healthy balance in your meals? I can help you with that, email me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com and we can set up a time to talk. Are you interested in learning more about Shakeology? I’m happy to answer your questions about that as well!

 

 

Does Eating a Healthy Lunch Seem Impossible?

takeoutMost of my clients seem to have a problem with lunch. It’s hard when they order food with co-workers or have limited choices in the area. Being able to eat a bagged lunch isn’t always an option when you are an EMT or detective on call so we talk about making the best choices possible with the options available.

I also talk about how they actually feel when they order the General Tso’s chicken or loaded pizza. Usually it’s never a good feeling: tired, bloated, gross and/or nauseous. “But it tastes so good while I’m having it. And the healthy choices aren’t really fun.” (and yet it’s fun to feel gross)?

Lunch doesn’t have to be a salad in order for it to be a healthy choice.And it’s not the best choice if it leaves you hungry and raiding snacks 2 hours later! There are plenty of foods that are filling, delicious and leave you feeling energized.

So how do you meet the challenge of ordering a healthy lunch without feeling deprived?

  • Think about how you are going to feel afterward.
  • Order a food you actually enjoy.
  • Order a salad, sautéed vegetables or a broth based soup to start.
  • Choose foods that are not covered in batter, fried or drenched in sauce or cheese.
  • Add vegetables to your entrée.
  • Have a half-cup of whole grains (about the size of 1/2 a baseball)
  • Stick with water for your beverage or unsweetened iced tea.
  • Choose fruit if you need to have something sweet after eating.

Many menus have lighter choices or special diet options available. It’s a good way to see what the better options are and lets you tailor your order accordingly.

Need help making better choices in your eating plan? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, for a consultation. We can come up with a plan that works for you and your busy lifestyle.

Eating at the Mall? Skip this Burger!

Photo: Carl Jr's

Photo: Carl Jr’s

One of today’s emails boasted on how a major fast food restaurant was adding a natural grass-fed burger to its menu. Carl Jr.’s, which is not anywhere near my house, is offering the burger which clocks in at 750 calories and 44 grams of fat. Not exactly health food.

While I’m a fan of grass-fed hormone free beef this burger has cheese, mayo, sugary ketchup and a white flour bun which takes away from the healthier aspects.

It can be hard when you’re out all day to try to find a quick healthy choice that tastes good and fills you up. Especially if you’ve been out all day holiday shopping and can’t quite deal with the thought of going home and cooking. There are a couple of choices you can take.

  • Bring healthy snacks with you so you don’t have to worry about finding food. At the very least, carry a bottle of water so you don’t get dehydrated.
  • Look in advance at your choices and figure out what you enjoy that’s a healthy choice. Have one or two backups in case lines are long. Places like Panera have their “secret” healthy menu, take advantage of it.
  • Leave the mall and go somewhere else to eat. Why I like this: it’s less hectic and you’ll feel more relaxed when you sit down.

If you do just want a snack stay away from empty calories, frozen yogurt offers sugar and not much else in the way of nutrition. I pop into drug-store or deli type store and buy a Larabar or a plain Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. I also like a small plain cappuccino or latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa if you’re jonesing for a coffee treat. It has protein and some fat (get the 2% or whole milk choice) to keep you full without all the sugar.

What are your strategies for making better choices when the selection is limited?

What is your favorite food stop in your mall?

Need help in making better food choices all around? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to schedule a strategy session. Together we can come up with a plan that works for you.

Getting Back on Track

e_may_photo_1I’ve gained some weight and I am not happy. It feels embarrassing to admit it since I know what to eat and what to do. Sometimes stress does get the better of me, I’ve been sitting more than usual and I’ve been hungrier than usual. I’m sure I could have made some better choices along the way as well.

It’s not a big amount and I can get rid of it; I have the tools and knowledge. Yes, it’s a challenging time of year with parties and holidays but it can be done in a way where I know I won’t feel deprived. It helps to remember that while some of the food is amazing at these parties often times it’s not something that you can’t get during the rest of the year. If it’s not special and amazing why bother?

Two other things that are going to help: Marathon training started yesterday and I’m getting a digital Smart Scale that tracks weight, body fat, muscle mass and body water. It will sync my stats to My Fitness Pal so I can track everything in one place without writing everything down.To be honest it sounds a bit intimidating but  will keep me honest if nothing else. (Stats and numbers are simply information, they don’t define who or what you are)

Why am I sharing this? Because life happens to all of us. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect my clients to be either. It’s good to be able to recognize that you have to reset your eating and get back on track. It’s great when you know you have the tools and the motivation so you can achieve your goals.

What are you finding challenging this season? Is there something you feel you need extra support around? You can reach me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com to schedule a time to speak. I can consult via phone or Skype if you’re not in the NYC area..

 

Got Stress? Here are the top 20 Foods to Fight It

stress (1)Feeling overwhelmed, tired and/or cranky? It’s tempting to reach for some comfort foods. Foods that remind us of happier times when we felt safe. Unfortunately most of those of foods are fatty and sugary and tend to worsen our symptoms by causing sugar crashes and by increasing our cortisol levels.

Cortisol causes food cravings, and in women those cravings tend to be strongest for carbs, especially sweet foods, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. The more of them we eat, the worse our mood gets. To make matters worse it triggers an enzyme in our fat cells (it converts cortisone to more cortisol). And the fat cells that are generally activated are ones around our middles, on our thighs and butts. As if you weren’t stressed enough!

So what can you do? Make sure you are getting enough B vitamins, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids can help ward off depression. Magnesium helps muscles relax; stimulates production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that eases anxiety and nervousness; and helps you fall asleep. And antioxidants help fight the damage that cortisol does to brain cells and memory.

B6 vitamins produce serotonin which calms our nervous system. Choose: legumes, tuna, chickpeas, avocados and baked potatoes with the skin

B12 vitamins help create GABA, which calms us. Choose: Greek yogurt, clams, chicken, salmon and sardines.

Folate creates dopamine to relax you and create feelings of pleasure. Choose: asparagus, Brazil nuts, oatmeal, lentils, avocados and leafy greens

Magnesium helps create dopamine to relax you. Choose: almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, amaranth and tofu

Vitamin C boosts your immune system & fights stress causing free radicals. Choose: berries, oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts and green and red peppers

Omega 3 Fatty Acids help regulate dopamine and serotonin: salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax-seed, flax oil, and chia seeds and edamame.

A meal of chicken, leafy greens or broccoli and a baked potato could actually be your new comfort food that makes you feel good. Bonus: top it off with a square or two of dark chocolate which has stress fighting antioxidants too!

You’ll feel better without the sugar crash and sluggish feelings.

Want to learn more on how to balance stress and your moods? Contact me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a complimentary strategy session.

You Ate What After Running?!

I am known for being straight up with people.  If you ask me what I think I’m going to tell you.  So when a friend recently told me, rather proudly, that she ran 10 miles and went back to eat an egg white omelet and salad I really couldn’t help my response.  I looked at her and asked, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?  You ran 10 miles and you don’t feel your body is entitled to a yolk?”

Seriously, your body needs fuel, especially when you’re active, and it requires whole foods to get the appropriate nutrition.  You need fats, you need carbs, and you need protein.  A yolk holds an amazing amount of goodness; anything that is naturally brightly colored is full of vitamins and nutrients.

In the case of the yolk it has choline which plays a key role in brain health and keeps your circulatory system clear of inflammation.  Inflammation is what leads to a variety of diseases. It has a unique protein that keeps platelets from clumping together in blood vessels, minimizing heart attack.  It maintains bone health with Vitamin D and it has lutein which keeps your vision sharp.

When you eat fragmented foods you are not getting the nutrients your body needs.  They are generally lacking in key vitamins, fiber, protein or fats.  A runner is fueled by carbohydrates and fats, it’s what provides energy during a long run.  By not refueling properly you tank on your next run.  A normal run becomes unnecessarily hard and it takes the body longer to recover.

So eat the yolk and add in a piece of whole grain toast, a side of grits, or oatmeal.  Your body will thank you. Interested in more tips on what to eat and why?  I have a recording of my teleclass that you can listen to.  The call in number is: 1 209-255-1099 and the access code is: 842695.

Feeling Sluggish, Tired or Out of Sorts? Try a Cleanse

Baked Butternut SquashI’m a foodie and in autumn I think of warm and grounding foods.  Foods that are a bit heavier and more satisfying than what I ate throughout the summer months. Butternut squash, pumpkin and asparagus all come to mind right now.  I’m thinking cinnamon and ginger.

I enjoy eating so I used to kind of dread the word cleanse, to me it brought up fasting, not chewing and pain.  But then I discovered whole food cleansing and realized that I could do this.  I could eat delicious seasonal meals that were simple, still sexy, and still reset my eating habits

So why does the body need a break?  You may have a pretty clean diet but still breathe in toxins from the air or absorb them through your largest organ, the skin, if your water isn’t filtered.  Maybe you drink socially, have a lot of caffeine, eat sugary treats or just a few too many healthy treats.  It could be that you’re having a little too much pasta, bread, potatoes or cheese.  Many of our convenience foods have ingredients that our bodies do not recognize as food and they confuse our system.

It might be that you’re stuck in a rut and not sure of what your next step should be.  Your imagination could be blocked and shutting down your creativity.  If you find yourself irritable and not really sure why you might want to give a cleanse a try.

A cleanse is not a fast.  It’s more of a rejuvenation and a reminder to feed your body what it really needs and not just what you are craving.  It’s something I like to do, especially in the spring and the fall, a sort of prep for the upcoming seasons.  In the autumn we are prepping for winter, clearing congestion out so our immune system is in top form and can resist colds and flu.

Think this is something you would like to do?  I am offering a seasonal cleanse that includes:

Daily email support

An information packet that lets you know what to do before, during and after the cleanse

A recipe booklet full of seasonal recipes

Intrigued? Click here for more information  http://tinyurl.com/fallcleanse

For a simple butternut squash side dish:  cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Place in a baking dish with 1/2 cup of water and cover.  Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes. Make it sexy:  sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Use the left overs in place of pumpkin for a smoothie.

Ingredients:
1/2 c canned or fresh roasted pumpkin
1 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 large banana
1 -2 tsp maple syrup (omit and it’s cleanse friendly)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
2 Tbs ground flax-seed
ice

Directions:

Blend all ingredients until smooth, enjoy!

Serves 1